This story was chosen by Sisters In Crime Columbus, Ohio (SiCCO) to represent their organization in the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.
William Meets Sally
William Jones was a plodding sort of man, going to his daily assignments, working on other people’s electrical problems, then home to his cold lunch meat sandwiches and CNN on TV every night. Every day was similar; every night the same. He was just treading water, living a life of stifling desperation, awash in a silent misery.
Things changed when he met Sally.
He’d gone to work in a house on the west side of town. The job was extensive; there was a need to rewire the old 1920’s house from basement to attic. John Bellars and his wife Marie told him that they were going away for a month during August and during that time he could have free run of the house with no interruptions. They hoped to have an entirely new electrical system in place when they returned.
“If you want to live in the house while we’re gone and you’re doing the work, feel free,” John told him. “You can use the spare room in the attic. There’s a bed and closet available. Then when you’re through, just keep the key until we’re home, and we’ll get it then.”
“I might do that,” William said, “It’ll save time and gasoline to just stay here.”
“And having someone in the house will give us a sense of security while we’re gone,” John assured him.
William went to his first day on the job feeling a little more optimistic than he usually felt when starting something new. He liked the idea of being able to live in the old house while doing the work. He preferred older houses and enjoyed the unique features of the work done by architects of days gone by. After moving his stuff into the attic room at 7:00 am, William made some coffee and began work in the basement. He’d been engrossed in his job for about an hour when he was startled by a voice behind him asking a question.
“Hi, Mister. Have you had your breakfast yet?”
Looking behind him, William saw a little girl of about seven years, who was holding a toasted egg sandwich in front of her; she appeared to be offering it to him.
“No,” he said, “I don’t eat breakfast.”
“My mom says that breakfast is very important. No day will go right without it. Here, take this, I made it for you.”
Not wanting to offend the child, William took the sandwich, muttering a thank you to her. She must have wandered in through a door he’d left unlocked. As soon as she went away, he’d make sure all the doors were locked so that wouldn’t happen again.
“Do you live near here?” he asked as he took a bite out of the sandwich. “This is very good,” he added in astonishment after the first bite.
“I live right here,” the girl said.
William thought, surely that can’t be true. As far as he knew, John and Marie Bellars had no children. They were in their fifties and this little girl was only around seven or eight years old. If she was their daughter she must have been a change of life baby.
“Who are your parents?” he asked
“My dad’s called John and my mother’s called Marie,” the girl said.
“What’s your last name?”